Friday 13 December 2019

Shift to craft beer sees change in G H Lett's focus

Company focus: G H Lett & Co

BRIGHT ROAD AHEAD: Evan, Douglas and Killian Lett of GH Lett
BRIGHT ROAD AHEAD: Evan, Douglas and Killian Lett of GH Lett
From left: Neil Hughes, Managing Partner, Hughes Blake; Kieran McCarthy, Partner, Business Advisory Services, Hughes Blake; Stephen McGivern, Corporate Finance Partner, Hughes Blake

After seven generations, G H Lett & Co prides itself on having the same core values it had when it first opened in 1810. Located in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, G H Lett is one of the oldest wholesale and distributors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in the country. Killian Lett, the recently appointed managing director, maintains that just like 204 years ago, the company aims to provide its customers with unrivalled service at the best price possible.

Mr Lett believes that while times have been challenging in the past, there is a bright road ahead, and further to restructuring, the company is well on its way to achieving its growth potential. The employees have been central to implementing a programme of positive change in the company, and the loyalty of the workforce has been fundamental to the success of this effort. With a shift in drinking patterns across Ireland and a strong focus on craft beers, Letts has shifted its focus and is leading this industry focus. It has gained sole distribution of O'Hara's beer across the South-East and is eager to grow this portfolio in the future. Letts understands the importance of consumer buying behaviours, and this focus is reflected in the focus the business places on maintaining the excellent relationships with all of its customers. Open six days a week, a strong partnership exists which sees Lett's supply its customers with what they want, when they want it.

Neil Hughes, Managing Partner, Hughes Blake Chartered Accountants writes:

An institution in the town of Enniscorthy for over 200 years; Lett's is an outstanding, growing family business that prides itself on strong customer service.

Hughes Blake's association with the G H Lett drinks business dates back to the 1940s when the firm of FG Blake began providing audit and accounting services to the company. The business is exactly the sort of entrepreneurial, owner-managed family business that represents the backbone of the Irish economy and also the singular market focus of Hughes Blake. Now, following an examination and reorganisation of the business last year, we act as trusted business advisors to the latest generation of the family to take the helm, assisting them in actualising their growth plans.

In a sector where change is constant, by utilising its vast experience, Letts is well-placed to capitalise on the growth in the industry and not just in the South-East.

Price will get a business into the game; but service wins the game.

Alongside great value for money, we have seen first hand the five-star service that Douglas, Jean, Killian, Evan and all the Lett's team provide to their customers, and it is that factor that gives us great confidence in the future growth and success of their business.

Kieran McCarthy, Partner, Business Advisory Services, Hughes Blake Chartered Accountants writes:

Family businesses make up 75pc of all enterprises in Ireland and account for 50pc of employment in the private sector, contributing hugely to jobs, the local economy, social cohesion, export business and national charity funding/sponsorship.

If our family business sector collapsed in the morning, the backbone of the country would be gone, and our entire economic system would collapse in the same moment. The truth is that the family business in Ireland is essential to the economic well-being and stability of the whole country. The foundation of a strong and sustainable family business is built on four key factors; good communication, a values-led culture, a clear, well-described vision, and careful and conscientious stewardship of the enterprise.

It is a huge feat for the Lett family that its business has entered the seventh generation with admirable strength and ambitious growth plans. The statistics show that only 30pc of businesses make it to the second generation and only 12pc to the third generation, so this business really is an exemplar in terms of managing an enterprise over the long term. With Killian Lett, an accountant, joining as MD in 2013, he joined a real family business in the truest sense. Killian works alongside his dad, Douglas, his mum, Jean, and his brother, Evan.

Stephen McGivern, Corporate Finance Partner, Hughes Blake Chartered Accountants writes:

Led from Dublin city centre pubs outwards, the pub trade in Ireland has been showing a resurgence in trade over the past two years. The growth of Irish craft beers and ciders coupled with a competitive food offering have placed the pubs back more in line with the lifestyle of the modern Irish person. This trend looks set to continue, and there is also a great opportunity for more Irish craft producers to export their products to the UK and beyond. To ensure that opportunities in the next two to three years are not lost, Lett's now need to ensure that the company is positioned for growth.

Every Irish family business needs the right mix of working capital to give it the room to grow and the funds to invest in the business. Every Irish entrepreneur needs to be aware of the new, independent and niche working capital providers in Ireland who are lending strongly into owner-managed and family businesses now and with whom Hughes Blake has strong links.

The drinks industry requires a large spend on marketing, and success-minded distribution companies such as Lett's need to ensure the key brands in their stable become well-established. Strong relationships enjoyed with suppliers and key brands in effect become more like partnerships as customer awareness builds and sales increase.

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